Though UP has averted the budget cut initially proposed for this year, the increase in its funding is largely for sustaining the university’s infrastructure spending spree. UP’s 2024 budget demonstrates the Jimenez administration's continuation of its predecessor’s priorities, heavily skewed toward the construction of structures at the expense of the UP community’s calls for adequate and inclusive services.
Budget for infrastructure climbed by 80 percent, from P1.7 billion in 2023 to P3.1 billion this year. Meanwhile, funding for workers’ salaries and benefits still received the highest share at P14.8 billion, but rose only by 2.9 percent from last year. Funding for UP’s utility and maintenance costs, on the other hand, incurred a P1.3 billion cut. In actuality, excluding funds for infrastructure, the university’s budget still suffered an P873-million cut.
This year’s funding reduction for the university’s operations spells a bleak future for UP’s run-down facilities, services, and research activities. With fewer means to sustain operations, increased building funds are rendered futile by dwindling resources for these structures’ full utilization.
This year’s budget for utility and maintenance bills suffered an P803-million cut. General services are among those that suffered from the cut, of which security services are part, despite UP’s requested additions as security concerns loom large. Moreover, the issue of buildings with faulty utilities is bound to continue, exemplified by the removal of the funding for Palma Hall electrical works from the final budget.
Issues with the upkeep of buildings are compounded by the state’s inadequacy in public services. Provision of higher education services will also receive a whopping P943-million cut. This means less budget for academic units to provide quality education with the aim of “inclusive growth and access of poor but deserving students.”
The university personnel’s dire conditions are also set to persist, as the P418-million increase in the budget for workers is insufficient to address perennial problems of contractualization and meager benefits. For one, the number of permanent positions remains the same, as the government snubbed UP’s P2.3-billion request for additional items. Jimenez’s lack of a definite staffing plan, as the All UP Academic Employees Union criticized, is hampering the grant of requests for additional items due to the 1,201 unfilled positions. Most of these vacancies belong to low salary grades.
Budget shortfalls are an inevitable ramification of the UP administration’s lopsided crafted budget, where buildings took the lion’s share of additional funding. Undeniably, infrastructure projects are crucial in effecting the university’s mission. But an emphasis on them, rather than aligning with a holistic approach that includes other services and benefits, neglects the equally urgent needs of different sectors.
As the first full budget under Jimenez, the allocations point to his administration’s priorities and vision for UP, which he first proclaimed to be focused on boosting research and extension. Yet akin to then President Danilo Concepcion, Jimenez’s infrastructure-centric appropriations failed to realize his supposed aspirations and departed from the university sectors’ calls for ample student services, additional aid for employees, and increased operating expenses funds.
It is imperative, then, that Jimenez stays true to his promise of delivering “balanced resource-sharing and allocation.” Focusing solely on the grandiosity of buildings to solidify legacies is fruitless in the face of many unsolved problems. A lasting legacy hinges on the leadership's capacity to meet the demands of its constituents.
Crucial to this end is the intensification of the community’s involvement by engaging with the administration. The UP president, then, can draw the necessary changes in its budget request from the sectors’ demands and spearhead the fight for adequate funding up to Congress. This active participation, after all, created the impetus for the reversal of budget cuts and the increase of funds to state universities and colleges by P21 billion.
As we must not settle for mere scraps of incremental budget hikes, a concerned clamor for sufficient funding that comprehensively addresses our needs has to be invigorated. The current political edifice of funding allocations must be dismantled for an inclusive budgeting allotment for all sectors to benefit. ●
Feb 10, 2024
Wala akong hangad na angkinin ang oras mo. Bakit ko naman gagawin iyon, kung sa mga kwento mo tungkol sa iyong pagkilos ay nakikita kitang masaya, nabubuhayan ng loob na magpatuloy at magpakahusay.
Feb 10, 2024
Bago maiahon ni Jimenez sa nais na katanyagan ang UP, esensyal na masigurong nakalapat muna ang kanyang pamumuno sa pagtugon sa kagyat na kahingian ng mga sektor ng pamantasan.